Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now, "That's a baby!"

by Ginger Nielson

When we were growing up we usually lived in a neighborhood.  The houses were close enough that families got to know one another, did a fair amount of visiting, and shared their joys and concerns with one another. We shared the chaos of growing families.

Because our homes were often very close to our neighbors' we knew what was going on in their homes and the homes of their friends.  Every time a new baby was born into the neighborhood the new moms would come visiting to show off their little ones.

After all the waiting and anticipation the new  babies were paraded up and down the street to each home for inspection.  Everyone loved seeing the new babies.  Mothers had them dressed in their cutest pink or blue outfits and the hair, if they had any, was swept up into a cwepie doll curl.  The ooos and the ahhs were expected responses.

Just the same, there were times, when we children could not exactly agree that these newcomers were worth all the oooing and ahhing.  Some of them were not at all as beautiful in those early visits as they might eventually become. But, let's face it. Not all babies show their potential in the beginning.  Squish-  faced, red blotched, bald headed, toothless, crying little creatures are not at their best.

When our mother cautioned us to be nice and not say anything unkind, we had to ask for guidance.  How can you say an ugly baby is "Oh so beautiful" and really mean it when you don't.

Our sweet mother borrowed a line from a current comedian and told us just to say, "Now, that's a baby!"
It seemed to fit the occasion more than once.

Why this story?

It seems that some writers and artists as well are like those mothers.  After waiting long months for the manuscript they created and submitted to be recognized, they have a tendency to think it is perfect.

Everyone should love it .  Right?

Only if you are one of the rare few who can produce a masterpiece in one version, could this be right.
Any manuscript needs more than one eye, more than one critique, more than what a writer might give to it in one draft.  You might even need to put it away for a month or more and come back to it with your own new view.

Editors and Art Directors have learned over years of experience how to spot the best, or what could become the best.  Once an interest has been shown your work, your foot is in the door. The advice and direction an editor is willing to give is worth the time they take to give it.  The author or artist is well advised to listen, pay attention, learn from the experts and follow the advice.   If an editor has taken the time to review and ask for changes the author or artist needs to act upon the advice.

Some criticism is definitely hard to swallow and there is a tendency to reject the comments, remove the submission and move on to another and another publisher or editor.  It sounds all too familiar, but it is a sign of the professional when the communications between editor and artist are acted upon in a positive way.  Good things come from intelligent collaboration and respect for one another.

Be aware that if your manuscript continues to go unedited by you or a professional you may constantly receive the non committal comment: "Now, that's a book!"


  1. Love it. You hit the nail on the head, to coin a cliche.


  2. Dear Ginger,
    What an incredible way to make your point about getting our work critiqued. You are so cute! I love your words of wisdom packed into a lovely picture. Do something good for you today!